The Kitui County government has signed a deal with South Eastern Kenya University to set up a livestock facility geared towards improving the quality and value of livestock in the region.
The deal which was signed this week will enable farmers submit their livestock to the university for fattening in a bid to fetch higher prices in both the local and international market.
The county has 276,568 heads of cattle representing 1.59 per cent of the total cattle population in the country according to the Kenya Dairy Board.
The project will start immediately and farmers will be trained on technology, animal husbandry, milk production, shoe making and honey production.
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Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu (left) with SEKU Vice Chancellor Prof.Geoffrey Muluvi during the signing of the deal at the Governor’s office on Monday. Photo: Charity Ngilu facebook.
Kitui is a semi-arid region with little vegetation mainly comprised of thorny shrubs hence inadequate for livestock feed.
This comes at a time when the number of livestock slaughtered in the country increased in 2017 compared to the previous year according to the 2018 economic survey report.
In this, the number of cattle and calves slaughtered in abattoirs rose by 5.3 per cent from 2,460.2 thousand in 2016 to 2,590.0 thousand in 2017. During the same period, the total number of goats and sheep slaughtered increased by 12 per cent to stand at 9,206.7 thousand.
The number of pigs slaughtered increased for the third consecutive year, to 360.1 thousand in 2017. The increase in the number of livestock slaughtered was attributable to the increased livestock off take occasioned by drought experienced during the period under review to cushion livestock keepers from losses.
However, the quantity of milk delivered to dairy processors recorded a significant drop of 17.4 per cent from 648.2m liters in 2016 to 535.7m liters in 2017.
Similarly, the quantity of processed milk and cream from processing plants decreased by 8.5 per cent and that of butter and ghee declined by 22.0 per cent
Production of cheese however, increased from 311.2 tonnes in 2016 to 338.3 tonnes in 2017.
Last year, more than 6,000 farmers in the same county also benefitted from free green grams donated by the County government in collaboration with the Kenya Red Cross.
The Sh100m programme dubbed ‘Ndengu Revolution’ is meant to end food insecurity in the County that has been grappling with pangs of hunger for a long period of time. It is also aimed at improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and reduce poverty by spurring rural development.